(Sports Network) - The battle for first place in the American League East
continues today as the Baltimore Orioles try to bounce back in the second bout
of a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
The Orioles have endured 14 straight losing seasons and dropped their sixth in
a row in Friday 5-0 loss that dropped them a game behind the Rays for first
place. These teams met at Camden Yards three weeks ago under similar
circumstances and the Orioles escaped with two wins.
Baltimore's offense struggled to get anything going in the series opener
without its right fielder Nick Markakis, who was recently placed on the 15-day
"We can't let it snowball," center fielder Adam Jones said of the team's skid,
during which the offense has batted .228 and scored just 14 runs. "We, as in
all 25, we need to play better. And that's pretty simple."
The offense, which was shut out for the first time in 2012, has not been the
only facet of the Orioles that has been struggling. The Orioles' starting
pitching has been less than spectacular, with an 8.06 ERA in their last five
"We're going to have to start doing some things we did to get to this point to
be competitive," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We've just got to get
out a little bit better with our start, pitching-wise."
Showalter hopes his young left-hander Brian Matusz can help his O's get back
on track. Matusz has held opposing lineups to three runs or less in six of his
last seven outings and gone 4-2 over that span. The southpaw's ERA sits at
4.82 after he gave up three earned runs on seven hits to the Royals on Sunday.
Tampa scored all five of its runs in the bottom of the opening inning last
night and David Price (7-3) protected the lead for 7 1/3 innings. The Rays'
5-6-7 hitters -- Luke Scott, Sean Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui -- were
responsible for the five RBI in the impactful first inning.
The win was much needed for Tampa, which had lost three in a row going into
the divisional matchup.
Price lowered his ERA to 2.44 during the course of the game. Tonight the Rays
will hope Jeremy Hellickson can match Price's effort. Hellickson has been very
impressive this season with a 2.83 ERA. The right-hander went 7 2/3 innings
and gave up three runs on seven hits for a no-decision in Tampa's 4-3 win over
Boston on Sunday.
Hellickson is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA against the O's at home.
"We have to try to go out there, get ahead, and ... get early outs. They're a
pretty aggressive team, for the most part," Hellickson said. "They've had a
pretty good offense the last three years, they're just putting together the
rest of the pieces now."
The Sports Network